Cummins opens microgrid test lab in Minnesota


Cummins launched its microgrid test lab at the Cummins Power Generation Facility in Fridley, Minnesota. Government officials and industry leaders graced the opening of this innovative lab. The 20,000 square foot Power Integration Center (PIC) will allow engineers to explore complex microgrid systems.

Microgrids are small-scale electrical systems capable of generating and distributing electricity. While some microgrids are stand-alone, others are connected to traditional power grids. Regardless of type, microgrids are becoming increasingly relevant for resilience due to local grid instability, weather conditions, changing government regulations, and rising operating costs. .

Cummins has developed several solutions for emergency backup and prime power applications that allow microgrids to operate as an island or grid connected. The need for a lab became apparent as they incorporated more renewable energy into their solutions.

“The PIC is the realization of a significant investment in engineering technology and innovation that will impact how companies use and build electrical systems to meet sustainability goals for a greener future,” said Gary JohansenVice President – ​​Electrical Systems Engineering and Project Sponsor.

The power integration center

The Power Integration Center was completed in 18 months and cost over $5 million. If a company wants to install a microgrid in a new location with an unstable power supply, Cummins engineers will help build a test microgrid using the lab. The test will include diesel, solar, hydrogen, natural gas generator sets and battery storage systems in configuration, test transfer switches, switchgear and system controls.

They will outline the feasibility of connections and control systems before investing in the actual construction. By doing so, such a company will save time and money in the construction of a unique energy project.

The PIC is an outdoor test area that includes five 500 kW test blocks and two 2000 kW test blocks connected as loads. Two 500 kW test benches will mimic consumer load profiles down to a leading or lagging power factor of 0.8. It also includes three interior switchgear rows that connect the various laboratory assets and to the site utility connection. A 500 kW rooftop photovoltaic system is permanently installed and connected to the laboratory. Other energy storage simulators are used to test different types of inverters. Then there is the technical control room, where technicians can assess all sections of the microgrid system and work with customers and technical partners.

Gary Johansen previously explained how recent technology and market changes prompted the company to invest in a microgrid lab. “We saw the investments that were going to be needed, both in our products and solutions and in how we bring those products to market. We are beginning to see this continual blurring of the line between pure vigil and pure main power.

Previous Cummins Power Solutions

Fisherman’s Landing Marina in British Columbia, Canada needed a microgrid solution to maximize efficiency and reduce operating costs. Cummins has developed a microgrid powered by a large solar panel during periods of low demand. It provided three diesel generators as additional support during peak power demands, along with its control and switchgear technology.

Cummins Inc. is a global energy technology leader in Columbus, Indiana. It consists of complementary business segments that integrate the design, manufacture, distribution and service of a broad portfolio of power solutions. Cummins won approx. $2.1 billion $24 billion in sales through its independent global distributors in 2021.

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